Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sleep Success!

Two nights ago, Michael slept for twelve hours overnight. Not uninterrupted, mind you, but the fact that he got twelve altogether was pretty record-breaking, as he usually goes down around 8:00 pm and won't sleep past 6:30 or 7:00 am. He did wake twice that night: once, at around 10 because the room was a little too cold, and then again (which is is usual pattern) at around 5:00 am, for a bottle. Post-bottle, went back down pretty easily and slept until 8:30 am.


However, this morning proved to be the dawn of a truly remarkable event. So remarkable that I was amazed not to hear choirs of angels singing and see news reports of the seas parting.

Michael slept for nearly ten hours last night. Consecutively. For some reason, he was stubborn about going down last night, and did not fall asleep until quarter to nine, but then he did not wake again, at all, until 6:30 this morning.

It didn't come completely out of the blue; we have spent the last week sleep-training, and he has been showing improvement with each passing night. He's been able to put off that overnight bottle for longer and longer, and his pre-bottle interruptions (the very earliest that we will offer a bottle now is 2 am, so these include any wakings prior to that) are becoming fewer and farther between. Still, it was absolutely groundbreaking to experience that first night of actual overnight sleep. I'm not overly optimistic that it will magically happen again tonight, but I think there's a very good chance that he'll make it until at least 4 or 5 am, and I'm okay with that. It still means progress.

What finally worked was a little bit of cry-it-out, which I've tried desperately to avoid up to this point. We used the Ferber method, letting Michael go for five minutes, then comforting for no more than one, before then letting him go another ten, and then another 15, etc. I had to do about a week of this with Abigail when she started sleep-striking at around nine or ten months, and it was agony. She spent a couple of nights so fervently fighting the inevitable that she would make it all the way to the 45-minute mark.

Michael, thankfully, has proven to be far less stubborn. We've never had to go back in after reaching the 15-minute interval. On the worst of the nights, Tom was on his way up the stairs at the end of 15 minutes when Michael finally quieted.

The process was still difficult, though. I found that the easiest nights were the ones in which Tom and I had a movie to put on, and could watch as we waited out the intervals. I could never bring myself to be somewhere in the house that I can't hear the crying; I need to feel in touch with what's going on, and be listening to gauge if a change in cry indicates an urgent need for me to come in and assist. However, it is heart- and gut-wrenching to listen to.

I've heard the advice so many times that if it doesn't feel right, don't do it. And that's one reason I've put it off for so long. It never feels right. It always feels awful.

But I have to say, the change in Michael's demeanor for these past two days has been breathtaking to behold. He's really benefiting from the improved sleep far more than Tom or I am.

Does this make me a convert to, or fan of, the cry-it-out method? Though I definitely don't judge others for their use of it, I can't say that I could ever give outright praise to a process that hurts so much to carry out, and for every baby I ever have, I must admit that I will always be trying to find ways around it. But seeing the benefits so clearly displayed these past couple of days certainly assuages the guilt that I feel. It makes me feel hopeful that I did the right thing, after all.

My well-rested son yesterday, getting into precocious levels of mischief.
Unfortunately, I couldn't grab a camera until he was on his way back down, but he finally got onto that shelf after watching Big Sister do it umpteen times before him.
And then, he managed to find his way back out, all on his own.